Friday, August 17, 2012
Gold by Chris Cleave
Wow. That is the word that summed up my reaction after reading the first few pages of Gold. Seriously, it was. I just couldn't believe how much I was loving Cleave's writing. It was fantastic! It was just so refreshing and engaging - it made me feel invigorated. I felt like I had just discovered a new treasure and I was thrilled. And the crazy thing is that I absolutely hated Little Bee - Cleave's second novel. I just hated it. I found the characters to be too unlikeable, so much so, that I did not care what happened to them. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was so taken with Cleave's latest work, Gold. I wasn't even going to read it, but then I started to read so many glowing reviews and the Olympics were on...so I had to give it a go. Suffice it to say, I'm so happy I did.
Gold is the story of three athletes aiming to make it to the 2012 London Olympics. They train hard, follow strict diets, and pretty much focus on winning gold. However, life creeps into their disciplined routines and the next thing you know, their worlds are forever changed. We have broken hearts, an unexpected pregnancy, a sickly child, and unending loneliness. It seems that getting to the top isn't all its cracked up to be. We have Zoe, who will do absolutely anything to win gold - even if it means breaking your only friend's heart; Kate, a mum whose focus is split between caring for her ill daughter and training to win gold; and Jack, Kate's husband, who is finally beginning to realize just how sick his daughter really is and just how much she needs him. All three are fascinating in their own ways and will have you rooting for them one minute, and booing them the next.
Cleave has written a fantastic behind the scenes story about what it takes to make it to the Olympics and what happens afterward. We get to learn all about their every day lives when they are in the velodrome training and when they are at home taking care of their little girl. We read about them counting calories and counting meds. We read about their past histories and how they came to be a mum, dad and aunt. Cleave provides a full picture of every facet of their lives, which I felt added an authentic tone to the story. You can almost believe that Zoe, Kate and Jack are Olympic athletes; just as you can imagine little Sophie watching Star Wars and pretending to be well, so that her parents don't worry too much about her. This is a book that will grab you by the heart and make tears well up in your eyes, but it will also make you scream and want to shake some sense into the tunnel-visioned minds of these celebrated athletes.
This book is just so good, I have to admit I didn't want it to end. I wanted more details about who won gold in London and how Sophie became interested in cycling (not that I was surprised). But I suppose that is what made the book so interesting - the fact that if left me wanting more. I love when a book does that. Actually, truth be told, reading this book also made me realize that I hadn't really read anything superb in quite some time. Hmmm. I think I'm going to have to fix that. Anyhow, at the end of the day, Gold has become one of my all-time favorite reads and I will most definitely be recommending it to my family and friends. Hope you give it a go and love it just as much as I did. Happy Reading!!